Unsettled Dortmund star Dembele could learn the hard way – you can’t always get what you want

Ousmane Dembele is a Borussia Dortmund player in name only right now. He first put himself in self-exile last Thursday – going AWOL from the team’s training session – to better agitate for a move to Barcelona as Neymar’s replacement in attack.

New Dortmund head coach Peter Bosz was initially worried for his 20-year-old winger last week when he failed to turn up to training but his stance might well have hardened into exasperation.

Barca’s loss of Neymar has destabilised the European transfer market and brought dream moves to Camp Nou tantalisingly close for Dembele and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho. The only trouble for Dembele is that his club has not consented to his departure and may well continue to refuse.  

The Neymar deal understandably created a rush of adrenaline for the French forward and a sensation that he could be next in line to stand beside Lionel Messi in the Barcelona attack but Dembele and his entourage would have done well to maintain focus on the job at hand in a professional manner.

Ousmane Dembele Borussia Dortmund

Dembele’s stay-away was followed by a swift, brutal and as yet unspecified period of suspension by the club. He did not feature for Dortmund in their 4-0 trouncing of Rielasingen-Arlen in the DFB-Pokal last week and will be similarly absent against Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga opener this weekend.

Dortmund have up to now handled the developing reality pretty well. They have shied away from outright criticism of their bright young talent instead suggesting that his tender age and lack of experience are playing a part. There are also suggestions that an apology – should a move not materialise – would see him back in the fold.

It was clear from the very start that Dembele viewed Dortmund as a stepping stone and they are probably comfortable with that. He has made no secret of his desire to join Barcelona. He admitted in a February 2016 interview with French TV that it was his dream to pull on the shirt.

Plus, Dembele wouldn’t be the first outstanding young attacker to build his career at the Westfalenstadion before moving on to bigger and better things and he won’t be the last.

He might well have joined Barca or Bayern Munich when leaving Stade Rennais last summer but chose Dortmund in order to get first-team football and grow in less hostile surrounds. Dortmund however would have expected the Frenchman to stick closer to the terms of his contract which expires in 2021.

It was not the right moment for such a precocious – but untested – talent to arrive at Camp Nou last year but Dembele and those around him believe the time is now. The trouble is that it’s not necessarily his decision to make no matter how angry he feels about being denied a move.

Ousmane Dembele Borussia Dortmund

There is no question that Dortmund would sell for the right price but Barca are in fact impeded by the precedent they set by selling Neymar to PSG for €222m. Dortmund know Barca are flush and are not prepared to sell themselves short.

Barca are reported to have offered €100m for Dembele during a meeting in Dusseldorf airport earlier this month, according to local press Reviersport, but that was immediately rebuffed.

There are suggestions that Dortmund would deal for €135m to €150m but the indications from Catalonia are that Barca are not desperate enough to go that high.

Indeed it has been suggested in France that Barca are even ready to move on from Dembele given the difficulty they’ve had in prising him out of Dortmund’s clutches so far. Their €222m won’t go far in this climate and if they had to choose between Coutinho and Dembele then they would probably lean towards the Brazilian.

Ousmane Dembele Sokratis GFX

It was a bad move from Dembele to skip training last week, with his entourage led by agent Moussa Sissoko trying to make it as difficult as possible for Dortmund to hold him to the terms of his contract.

Dembele is nonetheless regarded as a well-liked member of the squad who is a key difference maker in matches with his individual skills but senior pros like Sokratis Papastathopolous and Gonzalo Castro have criticised his behaviour in the past few days.

The Greece international contrasted the situation to that of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The forward would quite fancy a move away from Dortmund but has not disrupted his team’s stability in pursuit of that. He has put his head down, got on with the job in a professional manner and continued to score goals. He got a hat-trick in that DFB-Pokal victory last weekend.

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Dembele, Sokratis suggested, could learn a lot from that example. He could be in for another harsh lesson as the transfer window edges shut. Should Barca move on – having destabilised not only Dortmund’s season but also Dembele’s composure – he could be left with an embarrassing climbdown in order to return to the first-team picture. 


Liverpool reject fresh €125m offer from Barcelona for Coutinho and maintain he’s not for sale

Liverpool have immediately rebuffed a €125 million (£114m) offer from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho, reiterating their “definitive stance” that the player is not on the market this summer.

It was the third formal proposal the Catalan club have tabled for the Brazil international, who submitted a transfer request that was rejected last week Friday.

HD Coutinho

The guaranteed figure was €90m (£82m), with add-ons that could have ultimately pushed it to around €130m (£118m), with the Reds saying the breakdown of the package was “irrelevant” given their position.

As with the previous bids of £72m and £90m, Liverpool’s unwillingness to do business has been clear in the instantaneous way they have refused to consider the approaches.

11/2 to beat Palace -3 handicap

The Merseysiders insist, as per an emphatic statement from owners Fenway Sports Group, that the 25-year-old will remain at Anfield when the window closes.

Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez admitted the difficulty in getting a deal over the line for Liverpool’s highest-paid player, given the new five-year deal he signed in January did not contain a release clause. 

HD Coutinho

Coutinho has missed the opening two games of the season with a back injury and has not been in team training yet.

He has, however, reported to Melwood as normal for treatment on the issue. 

On Thursday, Jurgen Klopp was asked to respond to speculation from Spain suggesting the Brazilian could go on stike. “I can have nothing to say about his attitude, because since he got the back injury, he hasn’t been in training,” the manager said. 

“When I asked the medical department how he’s doing, they had no complaints so that’s how it is. I’ve got nothing bad to say about this.”

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Coutinho will again be unavailable for selection on Saturday as Liverpool host Crystal Palace in their first home game of the campaign.


Klopp sees no reason for players to leave Liverpool right now

Why would anyone want to leave Liverpool? That is the question manager Jurgen Klopp is asking amid Philippe Coutinho’s links with Barcelona.

Liverpool star Coutinho is tipped to join LaLiga giants Barca to help fill the void left by Neymar, who joined Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record deal.

Reds 11/10 with dabblebet for top 4

On Wednesday, Barca general manager Pep Segura claimed the club were closing in on Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele.

Despite reportedly handing in a transfer request, Liverpool have maintained Coutinho will not be sold as he prepares to sit out Saturday’s visit of Crystal Palace in the Premier League due to a back injury, and Klopp sees no reason for any player to exit Anfield.

“Can you imagine for a minute I am not a little bit interested about the problems or not of Barcelona?” Klopp said.

“I will never talk about something I spoke about with a player. But you can imagine, in general, I think for each player Liverpool is a very good club, a very good team in the moment.

Klopp quote

“We have a good age of the group. We have very young boys, experience – it’s a good mix and we are on our way.

“I think we got rid of the expectations of 20 years ago and created our own expectations for all the people. They expect a lot from us because of what we did last season.

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“I am fine with the situation and I am very positive about the project of Liverpool. I don’t see a lot of reasons for each player to leave the club at the moment and that’s just in general.”


Barca chief admits ‘difficult situation’ over Coutinho & Dembele

Barcelona are in “a very difficult situation” as they attempt to secure deals for Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, according to sporting director Robert Fernandez.

The Catalan giants completed the signing of Paulinho on Thursday but are keen to add Coutinho and Dembele to a forward line depleted by Neymar’s world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain and a knee injury suffered by Luis Suarez in Wednesday’s Spanish Supercopa defeat to Real Madrid.

Deportivo 9/1 to beat Real Madrid

Suarez will be out for four to five weeks despite finishing the contest at the Santiago Bernabeu, after which Barca general manager Pep Segura claimed deals for Coutinho and Dembele were close. 

That suggestion has been denied by Borussia Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

And, speaking at Paulinho’s introductory media conference, Robert said: “Not just Barca but any team looking for top quality players are getting involved in a very difficult situation in this market.

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool

Ousmane Dembele Borussia Dortmund

“Why? Because the market is where clubs like us want to sign top quality players. There’s no buy-out clauses, so that makes things trickier. Yes, we are negotiating with clubs to make several signings, but in all awareness of the difficulty.

Messi… Get out of Barca while you can!

“We need to work our way into a favourable situation and hopefully close these deals as quickly as possible.

“Dembele and Coutinho are two important players that we like a lot and have done for a long time. They have the conditions, the right age and could adapt to our football. They would be good to have here. That’s the reality.

“With respect to Liverpool and Dortmund, when there are negotiations you need time, you need to work things into a favourable situation for players and ourselves.

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“We still have days ahead of us, would like to move things faster, but do admit they’re two players we would like here. But it’s the clubs who will have the final say on if we finally achieve those two transfers.”


Barcelona target Coutinho will miss Crystal Palace tie through injury, confirms Klopp

Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Philippe Coutinho will miss Liverpool’s clash with Crystal Palace on Saturday through injury, amid intense Barcelona transfer interest.

The Brazilian forward sat out of the Reds’ opening game of the season, a 3-3 draw at Watford, having handed in a transfer request ahead of the opening weekend of the Premier League weekend.

Liverpool 15/2 to beat Palace 2-1

Klopp, who has been open about his disappointment with Coutinho pushing to leave Liverpool, refused to be drawn on the 25-year-old’s attitude as he continues his attempts to force an exit.

“Phil is not available. He’s not in training so far,” the Anfield coach told reporters on Thursday. “I think it is still the back injury, nobody has told me anything different.

“I’m not sure that I even have to answer [whether there have been Barca negotations] because the club has already said what we have to say.

“There’s no news from me because nobody told me any different since we spoke last time about this. 

HD Coutinho

“I have nothing to say about his attitude because, since he got the back injury, he hasn’t been in training.

“When I asked the medical department how he’s doing, they had no complaints so that’s how it is. I’ve got nothing bad to say about his attitude.”

Barcelona are expected to return with a bid in excess of £120 million for Coutinho, making him the second-most expensive player of all-time behind Neymar should Liverpool accept.

However, the club have maintained that their star player is not for sale at any price and claim they will reject any further Barca advances .

Barcelona were also criticised for claiming that a deal for Ousmane Dembele is close earlier on Thursday by Borussia Dortmund, who insist the opposite is true.

“I have no reaction, actually,” Klopp replied when asked about Barcelona general manager Pep Segura’s suggestion that a Coutinho deal is imminent. “I saw the game but forgot to watch the interviews afterwards.

“There’s nothing to say from my side – I don’t know why other people are saying what they’re saying.”

Barcelona are desperate for attacking reinforcements – and are not short of money to spend – having lost Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month for €222m when they bid his release clause.

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They were soundly beaten 5-1 over two legs in the Spanish Supercopa this week by Real Madrid, with veteran defender Gerard Pique conceding the club are now “inferior” to their Clasico rivals .


Coutinho and Dembele are ‘close’ to joining Barcelona, claims general manager Segura

Barcelona are “close” to completing the double signing of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, general manager Pep Segura has claimed.

The Blaugrana have identified Coutinho, 25, and Dembele, 20, as their key targets as they look to fill the void left by Neymar’s world-record €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Barcelona evens to win La Liga

Goal reported on Friday that Liverpool are not shifting from their position that Coutinho is not for sale, despite the Brazil international handing in a transfer request.

Liverpool have rejected two bids from Barcelona for Coutinho so far — the last of which totalled €100 million (£91.6m)

However, speaking in the aftermath of the Blaugrana’s 5-1 aggregate defeat against Real Madrid in the Super Cup on Thursday, Segura claimed the star duo are edging closer towards Camp Nou.

Messi only thing between Barca and mediocrity

Speaking to RAC1 after the match, he said: “Coutinho and Dembele are both close. We are hopeful that they will end up wearing the Barca shirt.”

Segura then told TV 3: “Until deals are closed I can’t say anything. We know we have to help the team and reinforce it and that’s what we are doing.”

It was reported in Spanish publication Sport on Monday that Barcelona had agreed a fee to sign Borussia Dortmund and France forward Dembele.

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Dembele is currently suspended by Dortmund on the back of the Bundesliga outfit rejecting a bid from Barcelona for his services.


Coutinho one of the best in the world, says Liverpool team-mate Can

Emre Can believes Philippe Coutinho is one of the best players in the world but is adamant the Liverpool dressing room cannot be concerned by the prospect of the Brazil playmaker joining Barcelona.

Coutinho submitted a transfer request to Liverpool last week after the Premier League club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, announced they would not consider any offers for the 25-year-old amid reports of Barca having bids rejected.

Emre Can 12/1 to score first against Palace

A back problem ruled him out of Liverpool’s 2-1 Champions League play-off win at Hoffenheim on Tuesday – a fixture Germany international Can insisted Jurgen Klopp’s squad were completely focused upon.

“I think it’s no problem for us because nobody speaks in the team about that,” Can told reporters when asked about the Coutinho situation.

“Of course, if Philippe stays with us everybody is happy – in my eyes, he’s one of the best players in the world.

Barca taking dirty transfer tactics to extremes

“But if he goes, if he wants to go then everyone will wish him the best and we have to go again.”

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Coutinho won Liverpool’s fans and players’ player of the year awards in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and scored 13 times in 31 Premier League appearances for the Reds last season.


Barca taking dirty transfer tactics to the extreme with Coutinho & Dembele


It is one of the worst-kept secrets in football. Tapping up of players has existed as long as transfers themselves and, even though it is against the rules, it happens all the time. This summer, however, Barcelona are taking the practice to extreme levels.

Pretty much all clubs do it and perhaps the most famous example of all was Ashley Cole, who was caught in a clandestine meeting with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, chief executive Peter Kenyon and his agent Jonathan Barnett while still an Arsenal player back in 2005. The left-back was found guilty and fined £100,000 by the Premier League.

Neymar 9/2 to win Ballon d’Or in 2018

Such punishment is unusual, however, and virtually all moves are discussed with agents, emissaries or a member of a player’s entourage before a club is even contacted. The current Barcelona board took this a step forward in the controversial Neymar transfer, paying €10 million up front to the forward’s family in 2011 to ensure a move would be completed in 2013.  

Neymar Guingamp PSG Ligue 1 08132017

Ironically, Barcelona ended up losing Neymar this summer after the negotiations went on behind their back. That provoked anger at the Catalan club, but Paris Saint-Germain were only doing exactly what the Blaugrana had been with Marco Verratti and all of their other transfer targets this summer. So they can have few complaints.

Barca have no credibility – Laporta

Earlier this summer, Barca thought they were convincing Verratti to move to Camp Nou and the player was certainly tempted, having previously spoken of his admiration for the Catalan club. However, he was unwilling to rock the boat in order to force a move and, amid talk of a possible strike, he was quickly filmed by PSG on his return to training in a video in which he spoke of how happy he was at the Parc des Princes. And that was the end of it.

Barca were also in touch with Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos over possible moves in June and July, but both players ended up signing for Real Madrid, who had also been in contact with the two players. Meanwhile, the selling clubs – Atletico Madrid and Real Betis, respectively – were left totally in the dark.

The strategy used by Barca is similar to the one utilised by Madrid under Florentino Perez: convince the footballer to join with the offer of big money and a huge club, tell him he has to push for a transfer and then open negotiations. Player power has such sway in the modern game that, once a footballer has decided he wants to leave for a bigger club, that is usually that.

Paulinho Brazil

HD Coutinho

Theo and Ceballos opted for Madrid, perhaps showing that Barca’s powers of persuasion are not what they once were, while Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin was unwilling to force his club’s hand despite being keen on a return to the team where he began his career as a youth player. So, the Blaugrana bought Nelson Semedo from Benfica instead.

Busquets wants signings to fill Neymar void

Like Semedo, recent signing Paulinho was talked into a move from Guangzhou Evergrande and the Brazilian midfielder told the Chinese club that he wanted to leave. So, there was little they could do to keep him. Barca had hoped to buy the 29-year-old for a smaller fee, but ultimately ended up paying his entire €40m release clause.

Now the Catalans are using a similar approach as they seek to bring in a replacement for Neymar, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele their top targets to complement Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in attack.

Coutinho returned to training with Liverpool on July 11 and gave an interview to the Reds’ official site in which he said how much he was looking forward to the new season. Out in Hong Kong and then in Germany, the Brazilian behaved normally and performed well, but Barca began to crank up the pressure.

Exaggerated reports in the Catalan media have been leaked straight from Barcelona, while the player has been made to believe that this is his only chance of a transfer to Camp Nou and, with Liverpool unwilling to negotiate, he has been told that it is his responsibility to make a move happen.

Ousmane Dembele Borussia Dortmund

Ultimately, his head has been turned and he handed in a transfer request at the end of last week, having started the summer completely content as a Liverpool player.

“The problem here are Barcelona,” Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard said on BT Sport . “Because they will be saying to Coutinho’s representatives: ‘it’s now or never. If he doesn’t come now, we’re never coming back for him ever again’. So they’re piling the pressure on and that’s why Philippe’s reacted.

“This kid who’s come from South America has always had a dream of playing for Barcelona, and he’s panicking thinking that if he doesn’t do it now it’ll never happen again. I know the kid, I know he’s not a bad person, I know he doesn’t want to cause a war to come out. But at the end of the day he’s just signed a five-year deal, the club have been superb to him and made him the player he is.”

Klopp: No change in Coutinho situation

Dembele, meanwhile, missed training last Thursday without permission in an attempt to force Borussia Dortmund to sell him to Barcelona. And, although he was not given specific instructions to do so by the Catalan club, he will also have been told that he has to act in order for a move to happen.

“Ousmane Dembele was missing from training on Thursday without excuse and obviously took such a step consciously,” Dortmund sports director Michael Zorc said in a statement later that day. “Obviously we will be sanctioning such wrong behaviour. After discussions with the coach, we suspended the player from match and training action until next week.”

Barca have had big-money bids turned down by both Liverpool and Dortmund for Coutinho and Dembele, but have created situations where the two players now want to leave and, if one or both end up staying where they are, they will need to rebuild relationships with their current clubs.

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As Madrid have done in the past, Barca are using their entire media machine to try and finalise those transfers, in the hope that player power will ultimately prevail. However, it is doing little for the club’s once-clean image, it will win them few friends and, ultimately, it may not even work.


Lovren suggests Liverpool’s Coutinho valuation determined by Neymar comparison

Dejan Lovren believes the value of Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho can only be determined when compared to Neymar’s record-breaking transfer fee.

The Reds continue to fend off interest in their Brazilian forward, with Barcelona having seen two bids knocked back – the second totalling £90 million.

Firmino enhanced to 7/1 to score v Hoffenheim

Liverpool are understandably reluctant to sell and will not be pressured into a deal despite the furore surrounding Coutinho’s future or his tabling of a transfer request.

It remains to be seen what the next move will be by both sides, but Lovren feels any asking price has been driven up following Paris Saint-Germain’s €222m acquisition of Neymar.

He told Sportske Novosti, using the inflated market for defenders this summer as another example – with Manchester City having spent £50m on Kyle Walker: “When I came to Liverpool, in a 20 million Euro transfer, I was expensive. And now defenders cost 40, 50, 60 million.

Firmino: Coutinho exit would be awful

“Times change and if Neymar costs more than 200 million, you will not sell Coutinho for 50, that is how the market works.”

EMBED ONLY Philippe Coutinho Barcelona

While fully aware of the speculation following Coutinho around at present, Lovren insists the subject of his future has not been discussed at length by those alongside him in Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

The Croatia international added ahead of a Champions League play-off clash with Hoffenheim on Tuesday: “I can’t say much about Coutinho as us players don’t discuss that among each other.

Klopp has no say in Coutinho saga

“The club will decide but of course we would miss him because he is great player, hard to replace.

“He and [Adam] Lallana will be hugely missed in the Hoffenheim game.”

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Coutinho has not been included in Liverpool’s squad for their first European outing of the season, while Lallana is nursing a thigh injury which is set to keep him sidelined for the next couple of months.


Coutinho exit ‘would be awful’ for Liverpool, admits Firmino

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino admits it would be “awful” if team-mate Philippe Coutinho was sold to Barcelona.

Coutinho’s future at Anfield is far from certain, with the 25-year-old said to have submitted a transfer request just hours after Liverpool owner Fenway Sports Group stated publicly that it would not entertain any transfer offers.

Firmino enhanced to 7/1 to score v Hoffenheim

Manager Jurgen Klopp has conceded that the final decision over the Brazil star’s future is out of his hands, with Barca said to be pushing hard to finalise a deal this week.

Firmino is trying not to be distracted by the talk surrounding his compatriot, who is sidelined with a back injury, but he would be hugely disappointed to see him leave.

“I prefer to not think of this because it would be awful,” he said, as quoted by The Liverpool Echo. “He’s a great player, but also a great friend to me.

“It is normal that great teams are interested in his football, but my concentration is now on the team.

“My objective is to win cups with Liverpool so I can enter the history of this club.”

Roberto Firmino, Liverpool

Firmino can carry Coutinho-less Liverpool

Defender Dejan Lovren is also eager for Coutinho to stay and warns that he is unlikely to be sold unless Barca make a significant bid.

“I can’t say much about Coutinho, we players don’t discuss that among each other,” he told Sportske Novosti ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League play-off first leg against Hoffenheim. “The club will decide.

“Of course we would miss him because he is great player, hard to replace. Him and [Adam] Lallana will be hugely missed in the Hoffenheim game.

Barca signing Paulinho is embarrassing

“When I came to Liverpool, in a €20 million transfer, I was expensive. And now defenders cost €40 million, €50 million, €60 million. Times change.

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“And if Neymar costs more than €200 million, you will not sell Coutinho for €50 million. That’s how the market works.”